A Legacy with MemoriesBy Garry Burch
Working with and helping many youth that have a life threatening illnesses have a dream become a reality has been a past time for me.
It is how I met Eric Corey of Knox Indiana.
Eric was a kid that not only loved the outdoors but he lived it. Eric also had a heart as big as the outdoors and desired to share his experiences with others that had disabilities like he did. Sometimes a life threatening illness can stop a person from enjoying life but with Eric it seemed to do the opposite. It turned him on to helping others that had issues like he did. Showing others that were interested, Gods great creation and the thrills it could offer was something Eric loved.
By personality Eric was a person that didn’t want to be in the spotlight, the center of attraction. Instead he enjoyed being to the side and seeing first hand the joy of others as they too got to experience the excitement of fishing or hunting. The outdoors is what gave Eric the drive to keep on going. There was something new or different every minute he spent in the outdoors. It was an excitement, an adventure something to experience and share with Dad, Mom and his buddies.
It was this love that made Eric say he wanted some of his friends who had health issues to go hunting with him, to experience the outdoors as he has and see all there was to see.
Eric knew what it was like to be restricted in what you could do. Just sitting in front of a TV all the time was not for him unless it was a good fishing or hunting show. His mind was always thinking of his next adventure be it Kentucky, Texas or Indiana he was thinking. Eric had been given opportunities to go to Africa, Canada, Alaska and more. He experienced more than most people ever get to do in a lifetime. Yet he wanted to share with others those same thrills.
A few years ago Eric decided he wanted his friends to go hunting with him and maybe a few others too. Getting started was a challenge and his Mom and Dad decided to help Eric out and see if they could make it happen.
One night I got a call and it was Eric’s Mom, She told me about Eric’s dream of a turkey hunt for his buddies. I work with the Indiana Chapter of Hunt of a Lifetime Organization. That is how I got to know Eric for the first time. We sent him to Quebec Canada on a Caribou hunt with the help of Raghorn news publication. A few suggestions on where to look and what to ask and Carol, Doug and Eric were on their way. From that first idea just a thought of kindness the Eric Corey foundation was born. Who could refuse this act of kindness?
Sportsmen, friends and landowners organized together with the Corey’s direction and from that came the first Turkey Tracks hunt in Starke County. They got the local fire department to allow them the use of their facilities. About 10 youth with disabilities or life threatening illnesses were invited along with a guide for each youth hunter. When I went to the building that first night before the hunt I was taken back. The facility was filled! I knew then Eric’s dream was a winner. It was this small act of kindness that grew. Helpers and guides were brought to tears. Kids and young adults that would never be a star football player, basketball player or star runner could be something in their own way. They could provide of food for their families and experience the thrill of a lifetime at the same time.
A few years earlier Eric attended a youth deer hunt in Northwest Indiana. It was at that deer hunt where he amazed the youth helpers there. He had gotten his deer but still wanted to cheer on the other youth attending to get their deer. The guides allowed Eric to go along as a mentor and supporter for one of the youth. Eric was able to see that youth get his deer and though he could hardly walk due to his illness he got out of the blind and went with the young boy to see his deer. Nothing was going to stop Eric from congratulating that boy with his deer. Eric kept going when most others would have given up. Eric was that kind of guy.
Because of Eric’s dream many others with disabilities and life threatening illnesses have had their dream come true as well.
The Annual Eric Corey foundations, Turkey Tracks hunt in April at Knox Indiana is Eric’s legacy that lives on through this family, hunting buddies and many, many friends as well as landowners and financial supporters
Last year over 30 people went on a turkey hunt thanks to this organization. Over 300 people attended the hunts activities. Over 400 attended a pre-hunt fundraiser fish fry and entertainment night.
The Legacy Eric has entrusted to us lives on!
Sadly Eric Corey lost his struggle with ALS January 18th 2012 as he quietly passed from this life into the arms of Jesus.
Good hunting my friend!